Film Review: Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War

Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War is an entertaining continuation from the excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The tone of the film is an asset, as is some fantastic action.

After another incident involving the Avengers results in unintended damage, there is pressure on the team to install a system of accountability. This results in a rift between the Avengers, as Steve Rogers’ wish for the Avengers to be free from political administration contrasts with the view of Tony Stark…

After the success of its predecessor, Captain America: Civil War had much hype to contend with. Overall, directors Anthony and Joe and Russo have done well to meet expectations. The film benefits from the built history. Previous instalments of the Marvel franchise have shaped these characters, making their actions and motivations convincing. The development from the previous films appears natural.

The introduction of new characters is not so overwhelming given that they are fairly minor. Most of the numerous superheroes have appeared in previous Marvel films. The appearance of Spider-Man is welcome, and bodes well for any stand-alone film. Black Panther is introduced in a similarly engaging fashion.

The directors build pace in a modest way. There is a lot of setting the scene for the third act, and this is handled ably by Joe and Anthony Russo. Action sequences are well executed, although they lack the fizz of the previous instalment. The theme of accountability and the constraints of power is one that has featured in many comic book films. Captain America: Civil War uses this not as the main theme, but to facilitate the story which unfolds from it.

Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles with energy. Anthony Mackie and Scarlett Johansson are always welcome additions to this franchise. Tom Holland has an appealing spark which suits his character well.

Captain America: Civil War feels like the conclusion of a series, despite the leads for subsequent films. Not quite the revelation of its predecessor, it is nevertheless an enjoyable blockbuster.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Press Conference

Captain America: The Winter Soldier UK Press Conference

Last week the directors and stars of Captain America: The Winter Solider were in London to promote the film. Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, and directors Anthony and Joe Russo were on good form for the film’s London press conference. Here are some of the highlights…

On what Steve Rogers should catch up on

Anthony Russo: I would recommend he check out Captain America: The Winter Solider!

Joe Russo: Four words. Fifty Shades of Grey.

Scarlett Johansson: Umm, cakepops!

Samuel L. Jackson: Red 2

Sebastian Stan: The Godfather for sure, right? And maybe cronuts.

Anthony Mackie: Any Eddie Murphy movie before The Golden Child.

On putting other characters they have played into the Marvel world

Chris Evans: Oh my movies are terrible, I don’t want to do this!

Samuel L. Jackson: I’d put Mitch Henessey from The Long Kiss Goodnight into the Marvel universe.

Scarlett Johansson: If I could do the voice from Her that would avoid the early morning gym hours so I’m going to choose that one!

Sebastian Stan: Looking at my brilliant filmography outside of the Captain America movies, I’m not even going to speak right now…

Anthony Mackie: I would say Nate Ruffin from We Are Marshall because he was such a cool, hip cat.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier UK Press Conference

On Captain America: The Winter Soldier deleted scenes

Samuel L. Jackson: As usual Nick is always trying to be three steps ahead. All of a sudden when he finds out that he’s been used it becomes incumbent on him to find out why, and use all the tools he has at his disposal to make that happen. And, as usual, part of it has to do with subterfuge and diversion, even down to fooling and his most trusted compatriot. We actually shot a scene that where that’s explained but I’ve been told it slows the film down in a significant way, and they didn’t want to slow it down. But, when you get the DVD and you click on my face there’s a hidden feature that will allow you to access that scene!

Joe Russo: I think there are about six or seven minutes of deleted scenes.

On stunts and injuries

Chris Evans: Doing stunt work, it’s physical stuff and even when you block a punch, that punch lands somewhere. Any fight with Frank Grillo – he doesn’t know how to pull his punches!

Anthony Mackie: Yeah, we were hitting each other for real.

Chris Evans: If you don’t block Frank Grillo’s punch, you’re going to get knocked out. He’s a boxer, he doesn’t know anything but 100%.

Anthony Mackie: No, that’s because he is a mean person.

Scarlett Johansson: Frank Grillo beat the shit out of me! I like to be able to do as much of the stunt work as possible. As capable and amazing as the stunt team are, I would rather do some of it and have some battle wounds.

Samuel L. Jackson: I used my stuntman extensively. I have no issues with him being hurt, that’s what he’s paid to do, and he loves it, he’s from a stunt family. His father was a stuntman, all his brothers are stuntmen. Before they could eat breakfast in the morning their father kicked them down the stairs or made them jump out of a window to come downstairs to get their breakfast. I used Kiante [Elam] more than… my god, he works more than I do sometimes.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier UK Press Conference

On musical talents

Anthony Mackie: I deal with the trumpet a little bit; growing up in New Orleans you have to learn an instrument. I’m nice on the spoons, I can do a funky beat, you know, slip some turntables…

Samuel L. Jackson: So in other words, no!

On Sebastian Stan’s nine-picture Marvel contract

Anthony Mackie: Damn kid!

Samuel L. Jackson: That’s what happened to the rest of my deal!

Sebastian Stan: I have no idea [what will happen with the character]. I’m still trying to realise that I’m sitting up here with these guys. Wherever [Anthony and Joe Russo] want to take the stories, that’s where I’m going.

Anthony Russo: We were going to use this press conference to announce than Anthony Mackie will no longer be with us. Falcon was a one-off!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier UK Press Conference

On Captain America 3 going head to head with Superman vs. Batman

Anthony Russo: When two cars are speeding at each other, one of them has to veer out of the way at some point.

Anthony Mackie: Hell yeah! Put it out there, baby! Tell them, tell them!

Anthony Russo: I think Marvel announced that date originally. Marvel was trading off that May date for a long time, and I think when Warner Brothers decided to move that film they moved it to the May date. I can see why Kevin [Feige] wasn’t moving from that date.

Anthony Mackie: Boom. Deal with that!

Chris Evans: All we can do is focus on making the best movie that we can make. Depending on how it gets releases, well there are other forces at work.

Anthony Mackie: In other words, punks step up to get beat down. Know about that!

Samuel L. Jackson: There’s Marvel where you have heroes, and DC where you have interesting bad guys.

On their heroes

Chris Evans: My parents.

Scarlett Johansson: David Bowie!

Samuel L. Jackson: The young people who put their lives on the line for us.

Sebastian Stan: My mum definitely, and I guess probably Jim Carrey.

Anthony Mackie: My two brothers.

Joe Russo: I can’t decide whether it’s Superman or Batman.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is released in UK cinemas on 26th March 2014.

Film Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster which emphasises the best elements of Marvel’s movies. The Winter Soldier blows its predecessor out of the water; no mean feat considering that Captain America: The First Avenger was a decent film.

After his heroics with the Avengers, Captain America Steve Rogers returns to duty working for the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency. Working with the Black Widow, Rogers must uncover the truth after a cataclysmic event…

Every aspect of Anthony and Joe Russo’s sequel is on point. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier the story is meaty and unfolds at a good pace. The action is fantastically executed. Set pieces are used sparingly, and are more effective as a result.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier combines a superhero movie with an espionage thriller. The film is darker than other recent Marvel films, and has more depth. The story is well crafted, offering mystery suspense and action. The key theme of privacy versus security is very pertinent. Captain America: The Winter Soldier astutely plays this theme out in an identifiable manner, despite the fantastic aspects of the franchise.

The film’s main characters develop in a way that feels natural. Captain America: The Winter Soldier builds on the previous appearances of these characters to make them more rounded and more interesting. The new characters are a good fit for the sphere.

There is some humour in the film, but this is wisely limited to focus on the more serious narrative. The action sequences are the best in a Marvel film thus far, with a refreshing brutality for the franchise. Effects are good, and the 3D works well. The film’s score is also great.

Chris Evans adds suitable depth to the all-American hero. Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson both do well in their extended roles, whilst Anthony Mackie is a welcome addition.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is easily the best stand-alone Marvel movie. Most enjoyable viewing.

Captain America: The Winter Solider is released in UK cinemas on Wednesday 26th March 2014.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic treasure this week, with the new A Million Ways to Die in the West trailer, Noah, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more…

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Warning: this A Million Ways to Die in the West trailer is red band. A Million Ways to Die in the West is the latest film from Seth MacFarlane, who also leads a cast that includes Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson. A Million Ways to Die in the West is set for release on 6th June 2014 in the UK.

Noah

This is the Superbowl TV spot for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. It is an intriguing prospect; a director like Aronofsky doing a large-scale biblical epic. The story of Noah does not seem meaty enough for a feature film, so it plot must be fleshed out somehow. The mystery of the unicorns perhaps. Noah is released in UK cinemas on 4th April 2014.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Black Widow

This new character poster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier suggests Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow has a prominent role to play in this Marvel sequel. Given her somewhat ambiguous nature in previous appearances, it will be interesting to see what director’s Anthony and Joe Russo do with her here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is hits UK screens on 26th March 2014.

The LEGO Movie

I used to love Lego so I find The LEGO Movie appealing. From the above featurette, the film smartly does not seem to take itself seriously. With a host of star names and featuring Batman, I am hoping the film will be an amusing adventure. The LEGO Movie is released in cinemas on 14th February 2014.

A Long Way Down

An adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, A Long Way Down offers a rather macabre premise made humorous. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette and Aaron Paul, A Long Way Down is out in UK cinemas on 21st March 2014.

Starred Up

Starred Up posterStarred Up is a new British drama starring Jack O’Connell and Rupert Friend. The film is about Eric, a troubled teenager transitioning from young offenders’ institute to prison. You can watch the trailer here. Starred Up is released on 21st March 2014.

Maleficent

This new trailer for Maleficent was released earlier this week, with Lana Del Ray’s rendition of ‘Once Upon a Dream’. Angelina Jolie was looks like she was made for the title role, in physical appearance at least. Maleficent looks like it will be quite dark, going back to its fairy tale roots. Maleficent hits UK cinemas on 30 May 2014.

The Invisible Woman

Here is a TV spot for the upcoming film The Invisible Woman. The story of Charles Dickens and his young lover Nelly, the film stars Ralph Fiennes (who also directs) and Felicity Jones. You can read my review here. The Invisible Woman is released nationwide in the UK on 21st February 2014.